Have you ever thought about how you could impact your city?
This month, World Bank volunteers from the Thailand office took to Pattaya city’s coastlines, cleaning it, planting coral reefs, and setting nursery-raised sharks and crabs free to help balance the ecosystem as part of our annual community service and learning activities.
In Thailand, 75% of wastes are mismanaged and the country produces 2 million tons per year of plastic waste. These activities are part of our ongoing efforts to learn more about marine pollution and how we could work together to keep our coasts and water clean through proper waste management disposal.
Arriving at Pattaya City Hall at 10 am, we first had a meeting there to better understand the different dimensions of Pattaya’s waste management efforts. On average, Pattaya manages 460 tons of waste a day with food, plastic, and paper being the top sources of wastes making up 85% of total waste in Pattaya. To make it more efficient, we learned that most of the garbage collection of Pattaya city is outsourced to the private sector that transfers it to other provinces like Rayong, which is the center for garbage management in the East of Thailand.
We also heard about why and how the Banchang municipality in Pattaya became a low carbon city as part of the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) project, a platform for countries to share experience, foster new and innovative carbon market instruments, harness financial flows, and build market readiness capacity for countries to scale up their climate change mitigation efforts. Through the project, Banchang municipality was able to reduce carbon emissions caused by energy consumption, transportation, and waste – their top carbon emitters. This project has enabled the municipality to be capable of recording and monitoring their own carbon footprints as well as addressing their own carbon mitigation plan to achieve the outcome of being a low carbon and smart city of the future.
Throughout the day, we learned about the city’s efforts in tackling coastal erosion, a critical issue for Thailand. Cities like Pattaya to small fishing villages like Ban Khun Samut Chin in Samut Prakan province are facing coastal erosion and are only about 100 km and 20 km, respectively, away from Bangkok. Coastal erosion is mainly caused by man-made infrastructure, destruction of mangrove forests, over-usage of groundwater, and global warming effects causing sea level to rise. We learned that by investing in properly designed infrastructure along the coastal areas, potentially this critical issue could be addressed.
From volunteering in these activities, I realized that all these environmental problems have something in common. Indeed, all the sources of problems are caused from our own actions in our daily life. What we learned was that all these pollution and cities sinking as a result of rising sea levels are mainly due to man-made activities. For me, living in such a big city such as Bangkok since my birth made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Civilization does not always bring about a better quality of life, unless this is done with awareness of the negative consequence to the ecosystem.
What goes around comes around, while the city enhances our lives with so many facilities, in return, we should start giving back. To address this, living with consciousness is key. If we can all do this slowly, together we can help address the issues. To start this is as simple as being more considerate when you throw away waste by helping to separate trash, turning off the light and electrical appliances when you leave the room, being more thoughtful when using paper, tap water, and ordering food. We should use more public transport and carpooling, and when you go shopping, bringing your own bags and choosing products that are more sustainable and environmental-friendly.
That is, to make our city cleaner, cooler, and more resilient for living in the future, I think we must at least start with our own actions first.